October 5, 2007

October 5 | Timothy Treadwell & Amie Huguenard

April 29, 1957 - October 5, 2003: Age 46
1966 - October 5, 2003: Age 37

Timothy Treadwell was a naturalist who raised a fair amount of controversy due to his unorthodox methods of dealing with bears, in particular grizzlies. He got very good at getting very, very close to them, approaching them boldly and speaking to them in a singsong voice. He had a great deal of self-confidence in this approach and seemed to be knowledgable enough about their ways that he could get away with it for many years.

In October 2003 Tim Treadwell and his friend Amie Huguenard were camping in Katmai National Park, Alaska, studying and filming the bears. They were staying a little later than usual that year, but had made plans to be picked up (it was a fly-in area, no roads of course) on October 5.

Sometime during their last night at the campsite Tim became aware of a bear approaching their camp. This was not in itself an usual occurrence, and Tim went out to meet it, choosing as usual to meet the approach boldly. At this point somehow their video camera was turned on, but the lens cap was not removed. Some believe that Amie turned it on (why didn't she remove the lens cap?) and others believe that Tim had a remote on him that got accidentally triggered. Whatever the reason, the camera captured audio of the next 6 minutes before running out of tape. Although the recording has not been made public (and probably never will be), investigators who listened to it have relayed its contents to interviewers.

Amie, still in the tent, asks if the bear is still out there. Suddenly Tim yells, "Get out here! I'm getting killed out here!" There is the sound of a zipper opening and the tent flap being opened. Amie's appearance seems to briefly drive the bear away, and they have a short conversation trying to determine whether it is coming back. It does, very quickly, and drives Amie back toward the tent. She yells at Tim to "play dead". Tim, perhaps realizing that this is no ordinary attack, and cries out for her to hit the bear with a frying pan. This causes the bear to drag Tim away from the campsite. Amie begins to scream, either in panic or in an attempt to scare off the bear. She may have followed it some distance, hitting it with the pan. The tape ends.

The pickup flew in the next day, but when he called out to the campsite he received no response, and noticed several bears in the site behaving aggressively. He went to get help, and when he returned with some rangers they discovered Tim and Amie's partially eaten remains and their possessions, including the videotape.

There is a lot of speculation about what exactly happened and what level of responsibility Tim and Amie bear for their own demise (and the death of the two bears). If you're interested, follow the source links to read in more detail.

Sources: Wikipedia, Night of the Grizzly, The Myth of Timothy Treadwell

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